I’m Andrew Dane, an 11-year-old autistic boy from Portsmouth, Hampshire, and I’m on a mission to visit as many fire stations as I can (including every single one of the 2,330+ in the UK, Ireland and the Crown Dependencies).
Two years ago I could not read or write, had very poor social skills and struggled to communicate with people I didn’t know. At this point I went to a different school and through my fire station journey and support from my new school I have now learnt to read and write. I’ve also become outgoing and communicate well – especially with firefighters and support personnel (and mainly about the fire service).
I have had a fascination with the fire service for quite a few years. On Christmas Eve 2014 my dad took me to visit Cosham, Southsea and Havant Fire Stations. Over Christmas I began (with help) to put together a list of all fire stations in Hampshire using the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service website.
Soon I was adding other fire authorities to my list and it has now become a 300 page book covering all fire stations in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland and the Crown Dependencies. A total of 2330 stations including some Airports, RAF and private fire stations (and I’m adding more of these every day).
In February 2015 I went to London for a few days. I think my mum and dad were hoping to get the ‘fire station thing’ out of my system but didn’t work. Some evenings, most weekends and all holidays are now taken up with visiting as many fire stations as possible.
On 2 September 2015 I was invited to Hampshire HQ to meet Deputy Chief Fire Officer Andy Bowers and was presented with a certificate for visiting all 51 fire stations in Hampshire. I’ve actually been inside all of them, spending time looking at the appliances and meeting the crew. I have also completed all of Isle of Wight, East and West Sussex, Royal Berkshire, Bedfordshire, Shropshire, Suffolk, Cheshire, Cleveland, Tyne & Wear, Cumbria and Co. Durham.
I’m already planning on going further afield and visited Fredericia and Vejle in Denmark in October 2015, and Copenhagen Central Station, Tivoli and four other fire stations in Greater Copenhagen over the Christmas period.
During my visits I have met many firefighters who have been injured and have received help and support from the Fire Fighters Charity. This made me want to help and I am now raising money for the Fire Fighters Charity. So far I’ve raised over £1800.
Also on my journey I have raised awareness about autism and told loads of people that the fire services do so much more than just fighting fires.